A couple of weeks ago, we told you about the discovery of giant methane reserves lurking in the Arctic sea floor. Researchers and climate scientists worried that warming climates might melt the ice encasing these giant methane pockets, thereby releasing the four billion tons of greenhouse gas into the atmosphere. The implications of such an event are, to put it mildly, not good for climate change.

Leave it to Big Energy to take the lemons and turn them into lemonade. A climate scientist’s threatening pit is an energy insider’s treasure trove. Based on an April finding from the U.S. Department of Energy, these reserves can provide a steady flow of methane molecules — the primary component of natural gas.  The finding was based on a two-month proof of concept test conducted in the North Slope of Alaska.

While the scientific community responded to the found Arctic reserves with horror, the Energy Department sounds almost giddy. “The energy content of methane in hydrate form is immense, possibly exceeding the combined energy content of all other known fossil fuels,” the department states on its website. The DOE is planning to fund research projects to pursue long-term production testing in the Arctic.

In addition to the Arctic, experts are already eyeing the coast of Charleston, S.C. – said to have more than 1,300 trillion cubic feet of methane gas – and the testing grounds, Alaska’s North Slope – home to about 85 trillion feet of gas resources.

I am all for taking something toxic and turning it into something productive, but we have plenty of methane resources above ground – it’s called animal waste and there is plenty of it. We also already have the technology to convert it into electricity. So before we start drilling into the sea for toxic gases, let’s start with the ones we have easy access to.

Main photo credit: Jeffrey T. Kreulen/Shutterstock